Wandile Msomi

Wandile Msomi

1. When did you first start cycling regularly, and why?

It’s been under two years really. The energy that it takes to ride my bike every day excites me. There are many reasons as to why I started commuting everywhere with my bicycle. The first was my girlfriend; she’s been riding longer then I have as a commuter and I love her for that, she’s always on missions, and this is a mission we are on together

The other is that a car is stress; I hate driving… the krooked cops (they are fun to toy with sometimes), the tickets and fines, the ridiculous charges on your car service, really I can’t believe I did it for so long, and that’s the thought that kills me… I mean the sound of grinding gears, the energy people exchange driving (you know what I’m talking about), the accidents, the breakdowns, it’s not healthy for one’s mental and physical being.

Also when you look into your rear view mirror and all you see is smoke coming from your pipe and others, and the first thought is “we are all aiding in poisoning our selves in a huge cloud we are creating from all of our cars during traffic” even closing your window doesn’t help, that dark smoke travels through your air conditioning to your lungs.

I was also a professional skateboarder for so long and keeping the mind and body moving has always been a priority. Cycling was the next logical step.

Plus watching all the documentaries on oil companies spending our money it’s enough to make you sick. Countries like America are ready to take lives for this Black Gold. It is as if they have a right to kill for it and you have no business raising your voice or your opinion. If  I can give one less rand to that, then I feel one rand better.

2. How do your family/friends feel about you cycling?

They hate it. I mean my parents have stopped complaining. But I hate that to see them I have to drive to them which makes them feel better. So unfortunately I don’t see them as much as I would like.

3. Do you feel cycling is dangerous? Why or why not?

It is dangerous at times. I have been hit by a car already; we were on our way to Soweto, and this dude just ran into the back of me and a friend (Nicky). For five days after this incident I did not ride my bike at night. But really… I have earned my stripes and I feel more confident on my bike as a commuter. Johannesburg is a tough city to ride. However I ride a fixed gear bike, and I can’t see my self riding anything else really in this city. Every day is an adventure as I sit on my bike moving my neck about like an owl.

4. How do you feel about cycling? Why?

I really love it. Riding fixed gear is a huge reason I love cycling. It’s more about the loving the lifestyle side of cycling. My favorite cyclists don’t win tours or rank. I’m more into guys like Massan Fluker, Jason Clary, John Cardial and Jason Yim; they have so much style. These guys look good on a bike. Massan for example, he really blows my mind: I know it’s commercial ( http://vimeo.com/81760289) but this is the dude that got me loving the idea of a track bike on the road.

 5. How do you interact with other traffic on the road?

I love it! Town (the CBD) especially. I can’t explain how amazing it is. I mean the lines, the angles, the human traffic, the way people just cross the road without looking, the way taxi drivers compliment or insult you. It’s like surfing through people. Like a long wave of people. My interaction is beyond just traffic!

6. What is the thing you like least about commuting by bicycle, and what is it you like best about it?

I least enjoy commuting in the mornings because I have to deal with drivers that are late for work. I also see people that hate bicycles on the road and they express it by throwing funny energy at you. Sometimes you’ll see other bicycle commuters and they don’t wave or say hi, especially the roadies and mountain bike humans. I guess when cycling some people like to mind their own business and I have to learn to respect that. But I do think a friendly greeting can make a day better for everyone.

7. Do you feel that being a cyclist has changed your life? If so, how?

I am stronger physically; my skateboarding feels a lot better these days. Since I started going on group rides I have meet some of the most amazing humans. I would love to thank Whippet Cycling  and Hunter Cycling. Without them I would have never experienced the amazing cycling lifestyle that got me into riding. For years I just saw races and athletes, and that’s all I thought cycling was about. Now I know it’s about knowing the people who build your bikes personally, like a tattoo artist, learning from everyone, going on group rides and meeting people. And also cycling is a lifestyle to me, like an art not a sport.

8. Does your employer encourage cycling? If so, how?

They don’t care really. Everyone is too busy trying to make payments and keeping a roof over their heads. People think that I am crazy for cycling from town to Randburg everyday. I had to move stock for a client once so I used my car, and people couldn’t believe I had a car. That was funny.

9.   Do you think your city can become a bicycle friendly city? How?

Yes, really. Johannesburg is so huge and that’s why I like it… I mean, when you get to other towns in South Africa, I have people telling me that we are not going to cycle 40km’s for a commute because it’s to far. But in Johannesburg it’s easy to do that, running from one meeting to another, shopping for the right foods, going out with friends, getting to work. Johannesburg has a lot of work to do to make this city friendly for bicycles. I really would love better lanes and they are coming. I have heard that the city is going to spend R250 million in two years on cycle lanes. I wonder if they are going to allow skateboards?